Microfiction: White death, the final installment

In the end it wasn’t the government sorted out the problem. I don’t think there was much government left that hadn’t flown south. Dad was worrying about how he would get his job back if the plant didn’t reopen. Our water was just about finished, and Mum was all for just boiling the water to kill whatever it was growing in it. Billy thought about it and went up on the hill where he used to sit on summer nights and look at the stars.

I don’t know whether he made contact with the stuff with the white tendrils, or whether they contacted him. Either way, he came back down from the hill with his face all lit up.

“They did it,” he said. “The people in the stars. Killed everyone except a few. The chosen ones.”

“Like in the Bible?” Dad snorted. “Bollocks! Who’d choose us?”

Billy shrugged. “We knew not to drink the water, didn’t we? So? They chose us.”

Dad thought about it, and I could see that his sense of social justice, that was usually quite well hidden, was peeking out. “So they killed everyone except the ones who didn’t drink the water? Without telling anyone or even giving them a warning?” Billy nodded. Dad exploded. “But where’s the justice in that? What did the Smithson’s do that was so bad to deserve dying with all that white stuff all over them? What did we do that was so much better?”

“Nothing, Dad,” Billy said gently. “It wasn’t anything to do with how ‘good’ anyone was. They’ve done this before. You know, Noah, the Flood, the plagues in Egypt, and all the wars and floods and famines and plagues we’ve had since then? They did it. Nobody said it was fair. It’s just what they do.”

Mum began to get excited. “So if it’s all over, does that mean everything will get back to normal again? Except that there’ll be…fewer of us, of course.”

“I suppose so,” Billy sighed.

I caught his eye. I was beginning to understand.

Microfiction #writephoto: White death

This short story is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt. It is inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt which inspired this story.


June snow filled every hollow. The world was a ghost; fruit hung frozen on the trees. But we’d been here before, no need to panic. Provision had been made and there were enough reserves to get us through. A few days, the weather people said, and the sun would be back, the snow a memory. They were right in a way. About the sun and the snow.

It was Billy, my kid brother, who discovered the real killer. Well, around here, it was Billy. No doubt the world was crawling with scientists who discovered it before and better than Billy, but thanks to him, we suspected something and took precautions. He was fishing in the lake. Broke the film of ice and sat there, wrapped up in his winter coat like a trapper in the frozen north. A bit of cold didn’t bother Billy. What did bother him was what he saw wriggling in the black water. Not fish, nothing he’d ever seen before. He dipped a can in the water and brought some of them home. By the time he got to the house they’d all but disappeared. Like Alka Seltzer, Billy said. All we could see was a mass of filaments like white hairs and they were getting fainter.

“Whatever it was, it’s dissolving,” Dad said and went to pour the water down the sink. Billy stopped him.

“They’re not dissolving,” he said. “They’re getting longer and thinner. Soon we won’t be able to see them, but they’ll still be there. Miles and miles of the fuckers.”

“Billy!” Dad snapped. “Go wash your mouth out!”

Billy might be only a kid, but he’s the smartest one in our family.

“I don’t think we should drink the water any more, Dad. Not until we know what that stuff is.”

So we stocked up on bottled water, a whole lake of it, and eked it out while there were people dying all around us, white tendrils crawling all over them.

The sun’s back now and the snow’s all gone. The government says they’re putting stuff in the water supply to kill off the aliens. But we’re holding on a while longer. There’s snow forecast again next week. Dad’s going into town to the supermarket. Everywhere’s very quiet. Doesn’t seem to be anyone around. There should still be plenty of bottled water left.


If you want to know what happens next, read on.